Venue: Committee Suite 1,2 & 3, Westfields, Middlewich Road, Sandbach CW11 1HZ. View directions
Contact: Mark Grimshaw Scrutiny Officer
Apologies for Absence
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 15 March 2012.
RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 15 March 2012 be approved as a correct record.
Declaration of Interests/Party Whip
To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any personal and/or prejudicial interests or members to declare the existence of a party whip in relation to any item on the agenda.
Public Speaking Time/Open Session
A total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to make a statement(s) on any matter that falls within the remit of the Committee.
Individual members of the public may speak for up to 5 minutes, but the Chairman will decide how the period of time allocated for public speaking will be apportioned, where there are a number of speakers
Note: In order for officers to undertake any background research, it would be helpful if members of the public notified the Scrutiny officer listed at the foot of the agenda, at least one working day before the meeting with brief details of the matter to be covered.
A number of members of the public attended to speak with regard to item 5: Call-in of the Decision of Cabinet dated 5 March 2011 relating to the permanent Closure of Bexton Court.
Firstly Judie Collins, a Knutsford resident, asserted that there had been no public consultation about the temporary closure of Bexton Court being made permanent. She also raised a concern about the lack of interim arrangements and services between the closure of Bexton Court and the potential opening of a health and wellbeing centre in Knutsford.
Mabel Taylor, a Knutsford resident, also asserted that a full consultation had not taken place with regard to the permanent closure of Bexton Court. She stated that the closure of Bexton Court had proved to be a false economy for the Council as a number of former service users at the facility had moved into residential care at a cost to the Council.
Charlotte Peters Rock, a representative of the group Knutsford Area for Knutsford Action, argued that residents of the Knutsford area, in particular Family Carers and Service Users, had been put under pressure because of the loss of Day and Respite Care in the local area. She stated that this could potentially affect the health of family carers, forcing dementia sufferers into residential care – incurring an extra cost to the Council. She also asserted that the Council had not provided alternative and affordable specialist dementia care in the Knutsford area and therefore was failing to provide ‘Local Care for Local People within Local Areas’. As a final point, she asserted that Bexton Court should not be viewed as a burden but rather as a money saving asset that would help the Council to provide local care for service users within the local area.
Mr Derek Empson MBE, a Knutsford resident, asserted it was wrong to close Bexton Court in light of the increasing number of elderly people living in Knutsford who – based on National statistics – would be affected by Dementia in the future. He called on the Council to retain services at Bexton Court so that local dementia and respite care could be provided and long journey’s avoided.
To consider the Call In of the above decision.
Mark Nedderman, Senior Scrutiny Officer, outlined the procedure for the Call In of the decision of Cabinet made on 5 March 2012 relating to the permanent closure of Bexton Court.
On behalf of the eight Members who had signed the Call In, Councillor D Brickhill addressed the Committee and outlined the reasons for the Call In.
Firstly, he stated that the Council had not entered into a full consultation over the permanent closure of Bexton Court as the most recent consultation had given the impression that the facility would remain closed only on a temporary basis. Councillor Brickhill made reference to a consultation which had been carried out in 2007 by Cheshire County Council but he contended that this was too historic to be deemed relevant.
Councillor Brickhill added that:
· The Call In meeting should have been held in Knutsford as to give local residents a chance to address the Committee.
· If Bexton Court was permanently closed, it would leave the residents of Knutsford with no alternative for the services formerly provided. This was in contrast to a similar situation in Crewe in which the services once provided in the closing Santune House were picked up in an alternative facility (Lincoln House).
· As Bexton Court had only been recently refurbished by Cheshire County Council and as it had been continued to be partly funded by the NHS in its temporary closure, it would prove to be a waste of public money to permanently close the facility.
Councillor Clowes, on behalf of the Cabinet explained the reasons for the decision, outlining that she would deal with the issue of whether the decision to permanently close Bexton Court was made within the context of proper consultation.
Councillor Clowes continued to respond to a number of points that had been made in the Call In Notice (Item 5: appendix 1):
· Regarding the assertion that there had been ‘no consultation [in terms of the permanent closure of Bexton Court]’, Councillor Clowes made reference to the ‘Improvements to Adult Social Care Consultation Report’ in appendix 2 of item 5, which documented and provided evidence of all of the consultation processes since September 2011. Additionally, she noted that the Council had given close regard to the best practice guide on consultation process from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The Council had made additional steps to make contact with former service users of Bexton Court and their family/carers with extra letters, telephone calls and drop in sessions once it had been realised that they had not attended the public meetings.
· It had been asserted that the purported lack of consultation was unlawful. Councillor Clowes stated there was no statutory requirement to consult.
· Councillor Clowes stated that the claim that there was no alternative provision for the services once provided in Bexton Court was misleading. Bexton Court had been used as a Dementia assessment and respite centre with the actual provision of dementia care available elsewhere. This provision was still available through the market and ... view the full minutes text for item 63.